Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Old Bullock Dray


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Oh! the shearing is all over and the wool is coming down
And I mean to get a wife, boys, when I go up to town,
Everything that has two legs represents itself to view,
From the little paddy-melon to the bucking kangaroo

So, it's roll up your blankets and let's make a push,
I'll take you up the country and I'll show you the bush.
I'll be bound you won't get such a chance another day,
So come on and take possession of my old bullock dray.

I've saved up a good cheque I mean to buy a team,
And when I get a missus, boys, I will be all serene,
For, in calling at the depot they say there's no delay,
To get an off-sider for the old bullock dray.

Oh, we'll live like fighting cocks, for good living I'm your man,
We'll have leather-jacks, johnny cakes and fritters in the pan,
And if you'd like some fish, I'll catch you some soon,
For we'll bob for barramundies round the banks of a lagoon.

Oh, yes, of beef and damper I'll take care we'll have enough,
We'll boil in the bucket such a whopper of a duff,
And our friends will dance, in the honour of the day,
To the music of the bells of the old bullock dray.

Oh, we'll have plenty girls, yes, you must mind that,
There'll be flash little Maggie, and Buck-jumping Pat,
There'll be Stringy-Bark Joe, and Greenhide Mike,
Yes, my colonials, just as many as you like.

Now we'll stop all immigration, we won't need it any more,
We'll be having young colonials, twins by the score,
And I wonder what the devil Jack Robertson would say,
If he saw us promenading round the old bullock dray.

Bob Bolton posted this version of the lyrics on Mudcat in 1999 (see discussion here). The tune is from the singing of Declan Affley presented as part of Warren Fahey's ABC presentation "Cupid Was A Digger".

Bob notes:

The first field-collected version was probably that published in 1956 in Singabout, Journal of Australian Folk Song v.1, #1, p16 and on the other side of Alan Scott's 78rpm Wattle record - the one and only folk song record to penetrate the local hit charts ... in 1956. (And which seems to have been missed by Ron, in his otherwise magnificent index.)

This version was collected from Stan Wakefield and is essentially the same as Chris quoted above, except for the change of one stanza for another and the fact that a few phrases seem to flow more easily - or it may just be that they are the more familiar versions today. The tune is also the same as Ron Edwards published 13 years later; essentially the "A" part of Old Zip Coon or Turkey in the Straw slowed right down.

There are many versions of this song (as noted on the 'cat). You'll find another here.

The illustration was taken in 1918 and is from the Dalton Family Papers, held by the University of Newcastle Cultural Collections.

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